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I’m going to talk about SOE’s Sentinel’s Fate expansion for EQ2, but what I’m saying applies to pretty much every ‘boxed’ expansion (even if that box is virtual) for MMOs. Try to keep that in mind.

Yesterday I went to Best Buy and bought Sentinel’s Fate. It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision. I had been rolling the idea of returning to WoW around in my head, and Petter convinced me not to, but the ‘new MMO in my life’ seed had been planted. Not that I’m new to EQ2; I’ve played it on and off since it launched. But I haven’t played it for nearly a year at this point, and hey! New expansion. So why not?

There was a standard edition for $40 and a collector’s edition for $70. As far as I could tell, the difference was that the $70 version came with a mount. There were some physical gee-gaws too, but Angela has the collector’s edition so I figured I could play with her figurine if I really felt the need to do so. $30 for a mount sounded insane; maybe there were other differences that I didn’t pick up on. Frankly $70 was out of my price range so I didn’t look too closely.

So I pay my $40+ tax and get home. Don’t really need the disks, I’m told. I can just patch in Sentinel’s Fate once I activate it on my account. To do that I have to re-subscribe of course. $15 for a month. I start the patcher expecting it’ll run overnight or something. About 15 minutes later it was done.

And it struck me that I’d spent $55 to play this new content for a month. That seems steep to me; I could’ve bought a brand new MMO I’d never played for that much. Most new games cost $50 and give you a month to play for free. By deciding to return to EQ2 I’m actually paying $5 more than I would to play a game I’ve never played before.

And, from an emotional point of view, the fact that it could be patched in very quickly made it *feel* like a small expansion. I know that’s silly… basically I’m faulting a really efficient patcher and that’s no honest reflection of how big the content is. Or maybe something is fubar’d; I haven’t patched my client since maybe last summer at some point. How could it patch so quickly!? Is the new streaming technology built into Sentinel’s Fate?

But I digress. I think $55 is a lot to ask of people who’re returning to your game, and who represent potential sustained increased income if your content hooks them.

I was fine paying $40 to see what was new in EQ2, and this isn’t a case of bait-and-switch or anything. Sony is very above-board in letting you know you’ll need a sub and all that. But for some reason this time it just ‘clicked’ that I was paying $55, not $40, to try the new content, and that’s sort of soured the experience for me before I’ve even logged in.

The solution? Give a 30-day time credit with the purchase of a boxed expansion. When you activate that expansion, activate the account for 30 days (or extend the duration for already active accounts). Sure, that’s going to be a big dip in subscription income for a month, but think of the goodwill you’d generate and potential long-term increase in revenue. Alternatively, give the 30-day credit only to accounts that have been inactive for 3-months; then you’d just be covering people newly returned to the game (though that could be a real PR nightmare).

Anyway, I think next time an extension for an MMO I’m not currently playing comes out, I’ll wait for a sale or a price drop.



Comments:
9
  • But, EQ2 is unique, in that what YOU paid for was EVERY expansion that came before as well as the new one. As it notes on Gamestop “all-in-one compilation pack” (http://www.gamestop.com/Catalog/ProductDetails.aspx?product_id=76309)
    See, SOE tricks everyone into buying everything again to get the new thing. It is a major rip-off, and I have refused to play their money game no more.
    Sorry you had to do that as well. Luckily if you were missing any adventure packs or anything else expansion wise…you actually got a VERY good deal.

    Laters

  • Is EVE the only major MMO that does not charge extra beyond the subscription for expansions? I think subscription games should not be able to charge for expansions, but if people pay you cannot blame a corporation for charging.

  • I’m very disappointed you were talked out of re-upping WoW. [sob]

  • @Gwyn – I thought you’d given up after the serial hacking episodes? Had I known you were playing I may have resisted the peer pressure. :)

  • What happened to the days when expansions were dirt cheap? It seems companies are getting a little greedy these days.

  • I bought the Sentinel’s Fate CE (*ducks*), but only because I had some Amazon promo credit from buying previous games. That brought the price down to the same as the regular edition, and since I’m pretty new to the game, not having to spend plat on a mount was nice.

    I would *not* have bought it without that credit though. When I bought the Wrath CE, it had an art book and soundtrack, along with a bunch of little goodies. In contrast, the Sentinel’s Fate CE is pretty disappointing… I just hope the content is decent (when I get there.)

  • For a new player, the expansion is effectively the full game, which makes it pretty good value. For a returning player who already has some/all of the expansions, I’ll agree the price is a little steep… though in the spirit of full disclosure I did get the CE on one of my accounts too. Yay He-Man mount! :D

    I remember thinking it’s a shame existing players don’t get the free 30 days either, especially since it’s printed in LOOK AT ME letters on the box — and although it’s only $15 and in the greater scheme of things not that much, *psychologically* I think that throwing in a month’s sub would really help.

  • I agree that paying for both and expansion and a monthly subscription is a lot of money to fork out but think of this way: the expansion cost should cover several months of play and that’s a lot more value for money then you would get out of a single player game. For instance, even a great game like DA:O only lasts a couple of weeks and it costs $50.

  • [...] Pete from Dragonchasers is feeling the pinch and ponders if MMORPG expansions are getting a bit pricey these days. [...]